Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Lure of the Temptress (MS-DOS)

Lure of the Temptress DOS title screen
Today I'm taking a look at Lure of the Temptress, the first game by point and click adventure specialists Revolution, who went on to create Beneath a Steel Sky and the Broken Sword series.

You might have noticed that this is the second adventure game I'm playing in a row, after Beyond Shadowgate. Well, I figured that considering there's 68 first person shooters, 71 RPGs, and 260 platformers on the site so far, the poor point and click genre was getting a bit under-represented. Plus I felt like playing it.

The game begins with an animated intro and narration. Not voiced narration, but boxes of text that appear between scenes like this was a silent movie. No jaunty piano music though sadly.

The protagonist, a bloke called Diermot, explains that he tagged along with the King's hunting party when they visited his village, in the hopes of getting a few days easy work.

These silhouette scenes work pretty well I reckon, and it's a sensible way to have a lot of movement on screen without overtaxing the hardware. Though it's not so clever when a character starts walking in front (or behind?) things and suddenly becomes obscured.

Unfortunately for Diermot, a messenger arrives with news of an uprising in a far off town, and before he knows it he's stuck riding off alongside the King's guard into battle.

The battle... didn't go so well for Team Royalty, with the King killed and our hero knocked unconscious after falling from his horse.

I put this picture together myself out of the slices of carnage that flashed up on screen, but it gets the point across. Interestingly enough, these are actually blue on the Amiga version. Actually that wasn't interesting enough at all, I apologise.

Whoa, deja-vu. Wasn't I just here in Beyond Shadowgate? It's even got the same pile of straw, in the same corner. Though this time I don't have a match on me to set it on fire and lure the guard inside. I'm going to have to figure out another way out of this prison cell.

Oh duh, there's a torch right over it! I just need to drop that onto the straw, and the guard should come running in. Then I just have to... well, there's no punch button in this, but I'm sure I'll figure something out.

Well that didn't exactly play out like I expected. Setting my only bed on fire hasn't really improved my situation either.

Maybe I should be shouting for help or something?

Oh cool it did work, the guard just took his damn time to get here. The poor dumb bastard hasn't noticed me and thinks I'm still on the bed, so this is my chance to slip out the open door.

Or maybe...

Well it was worth a shot. Turns out that Diermot is even more of a wimp than Beyond Shadowgate's Prince Erik, and this is game over.

Pretty awesome animation for a 1992 adventure game though. Shame it's using midi for the sound effects, so that punch sounded like someone pressing a key on a rock organ. The game also came out on Amiga and Atari ST computers though, which have much better sound.

Okay, I'll restart and try again.

I thought I'd give 'lock cell door' a shot when I made it out of the room, even though I didn't have the key, and it actually worked! So I should be safe for a while.

Oh by the way, the way the interface works in this, is that I right click an object with the mouse to bring up commands I can use on that object. So to lock a door for instance, I right click the door and choose 'lock'. Seems like a pretty sensible control system, and a step up from Monkey Island's screenful of buttons. Plus it uses words instead of vague icons, which is often a smart idea.

Lure of the Temptress (Amiga)
Here's a shot from the Amiga version just for the sake of variety. Stronger contrast and bolder colours, but less of them on screen. I think this is a clear win for VGA PCs in the visuals department.

Anyway I've found a prisoner chained up, and he seems eager for a drink. Shame I couldn't have knocked that guard out and got his keys. Well if I can't get him down I can at least go look for some liquid.

In the next room I found a bottle, and a barrel full of disgusting stinking liquor. Sounds close enough to water to me. I couldn't pick up any of those big obvious weapons from the rack though, or either of those swords from over the door. But I was able to grab the dagger at least.

What, you can't see the dagger? It's sitting right there on the barrel, obviously!

Though I found him a drink, the poor prisoner was still only a few agonized gasps away from death. With his last words he told me that I can escape using some loose bricks, and that I should look for a blacksmith when I get out.

Man, I do not have a good track record when it comes to rescuing prisoners from torture racks lately. Though to be fair, I did manage to rescue the second guy in Beyond Shadowgate.

Hey, I found a second guy! And I was able to rescue him by cutting the ropes with my dagger.

Well I found the loose brick to push, but Diermot isn't strong enough to do it. He's a pretty useless protagonist actually. Fortunately my new buddy Ratpouch is in better shape, and I can order him to do any action Diermot can do just by talking to him.

In fact, if I'd rescued him first I could have done this:

And it would have worked.

Though maybe not on this version I've playing so far. I got the game (for free) from GOG.com because I thought it'd be the most stable way to play it on a modern PC. It uses ScummVM to run it, which is usually very solid, but I found the pathfinding was going screwy. Ratpouch and Diermot would just circle the room when I tried giving him a command.

So I went to ScummVM's site to look for info, downloaded a different copy of the game from them (for free), then loaded that up in DOSBox instead. Seemed to sort out the problem so I'll be continuing with that. 

I was hoping it might improve the sound as well, but nope. Apparently it's meant to sound this bad.

The loose bricks opened up a secret passage, but not the good kind like you want. This is a wild thrill ride straight into a sewage pipe.

It's giving me flashbacks to playing... Flashback, when you jump down that hole wearing an anti-gravity belt to slow the fall. Sadly Diermot's got nothing but monster shit and kitchen waste to break his fall. 

Let's never talk about that again.

Though actually, I do want to mention one thing. In Beyond Shadowgate, I found myself collecting items with no clue what they did, helping people out with no obvious consequences, and was left unsure if I'd actually lost the game by making a bad choice without realising. But Lure of the Temptress forced me to get the dagger to save Ratpouch. I couldn't find out about the escape route without also learning I had to visit a blacksmith. And without freeing Ratpouch I couldn't move the bricks to get out. So the game has made absolutely sure I have everything I need to continue before letting me escape. Well okay it didn't test to see if I picked up the coin from the trash, but hopefully that's not essential.

And hey, we're out of prison! Time to go find this blacksmith.

Turns out the prison was inside the town mentioned in the intro, the one conquered by these Skorl creatures which the King was trying to liberate. Looks like it's just down to me now. Fortunately no one here realises I'm an escaped prisoner, so I'm free to wander around.

It still looks pretty nice out here, though this music's getting worse. I guess they were going for atmosphere, but it actually sounds like a really bored pianist hitting the one note over and over.

This is like the eighth screen I've been down since leaving the prison, and there's no sign of the blacksmith. Nothing to pick up, and nothing to do either. Nothing interesting at all really.

Well okay I found an indifferent goat, and some water. I tried to use my bottle to get a drink, but found it'd been replaced by sticky bottle fragments. Must have been the fall.

Uh, this is the screen leading from the prison into town, how did I get back here?

Also I exited through a door on the left of the last screen, but entered this screen out of a door facing downwards. Did the camera just changed direction on me?

Okay I kept going downwards, and that took me back to this screen, except coming from the left this time. So it's not the route to the prison, it's just identical to it.

I'm going to have to draw a map of this place or something, because this is messing with my head.

Awesome, I've found a couple of monks. Hey guys, either of you know where the blacksmith lives? Can anyone here even talk? Everyone who hasn't taken a vow of rudeness please raise your hand.

Fuck y'all then, I'm going to find someone else to chat with.

So... if I find all that out, you'll tell me where the blacksmith is?

Okay. The eagle is 'airborne', the otter's mother knows his secret name, and you can tell one end of a worm from the other by using a marker pen on one of them. Good enough? No?

Fine, fuck you too then.

No one in the pub was any help either, but I stuck around for a while to watch customers come in and chat to the bartender. It seems that each of the NPCs wanders around the town carrying on with their routines, and if they meet with another character they can have a conversation. Even Ratpouch tried to get himself a drink, but had to settle for a shandy when he couldn't prove he was over 12.

Yes! I've found the blacksmith. Finally.

I tried to relay the message I was given by the doomed prisoner, but it turned out that Ultar was just lying to me. He's actually some asshole warrior. Ratpouch seems to like him though, and went over to get some tips on being a barbarian.

I don't believe this, I've finally found a game where I can actually just ask people for directions, and no one wants to give me a proper answer. It's not like they don't know where their blacksmith lives, they're just really unhelpful people.

Follow my ears? Well that's bloody helpful in a game without sound effects, thanks for that.

Oh wait, the game uses midi for sound effects doesn't it? So a blacksmith would sound like... a bored pianist hitting the same note on a piano. Man, I'm an idiot.

This seems to be where the sound's coming from. Oh and look, my cursor turns to a door when I move it over this opening. I've been looking all around this town for blacksmith sign, or a forge, or maybe even a sign with 'BLACKSMITH' written on, but nope. It was just a small opening in the wall.

Oh man... his hammer makes a 'honk' sound every time he hits the anvil. This is honestly cracking me up.

Honk, honk, honk, honk, honk.

Anyway I've finally found the blacksmith! For real this time! He sends me right back out to look for a missing girl called Goewin, so I guess I'm going down to the pubs.

Well Morkus here is still next to useless. Apparently he doesn't trust me because I look and smell like I just crawled out of a sewage pipe.

But everyone else says that if I want info about Goewin's disappearance, I should go talk to Morkus. Which is annoying.

At least I'm able to find my way around town now, after I drew up a map. Turns out that the doors were misleading: the camera's actually facing the same direction on every screen, and the screens are pretty much laid out on a grid.

Yes! I've found Goewin. Finally.

Wait...


LATER.


Eventually I was able to bribe Morkus into giving me something to go on, and this led to me having wandering around looking for someone else.

I've been playing some weird point and click adventures lately. In Beyond Shadowgate I went around picking up items, but then solved all my puzzles with a punch button instead. And in this I'm getting no items, and no puzzles. I just have to go around talking to everyone until I find the person with the next clue, over and over again.


EVENTUALLY.


Right, turns out that now I need to see a magician, and he lives behind this locked door. Finally I'm onto a lead which requires a bit of thinking. And I'm thinking that Ratpouch can sort it all out for me, because Diermot doesn't know shit about picking a lock.

Great, the wizard's not here. In fact there's nothing here but some alchemy apparatus, and unfortunately the only ingredients on me at the moment are 'broken glass', 'gem', 'knife' and 'lockpick'. I suppose I could try mixing up a Potion of Gut-shredding.

Unfortunately it seems breaking and entering is still a crime in these parts, and when the Skorl burst in it was all over for me. Again.


Well the game looks great for its time, the interface is fast and intuitive, and the sound... well, two out of three isn't bad. But I really have no interest in playing this any further, and that's just because it's so damn boring. So far anyway, for all I know it just starts slow. But I really am tired of walking around these same buildings, chatting to the same people. "Can you tell me where to find the blacksmith?" "What do you know of Goewin?" "Where can I find Grub?" "Have you seen Taidgh?"

The game does have interesting conversations, but they're usually happening in the background. It's cool how they've managed to create NPCs with things of their own to do, but it makes me feel like I'm stuck playing as the most boring character in the game. I'm like the sidekick in Ratpouch's adventure, doing all the boring work so he can chat to everyone and do all the important stuff.

But PC version is free to download and play, so you can check it out yourself if you've any interest and haven't got it already. You can grab it from the official site here: http://revolution.co.uk/lure. They're giving away Beneath a Steel Sky as well (which means I'll probably end up playing that for the site at some point too).


If you've got any opinions about Lure of the Temptress, those things I said about it, or the site in general, feel free to leave a comment. Probably best not to request a game though. I mean, go ahead if you really want to, but it'll take me until halfway through next year to get around to it.

6 comments:

  1. Mhhh... maybe it is time for you to play a good British adventure game and add some more games on the gold star award?

    You can try with Simon the Sorcerer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well I guess now I can cross 'Simon the Sorcerer' off the list of games I never thought I'd see requested in the comments. Then I suppose I should add it onto the game requests list while I'm at it, as it's a good suggestion.

      To be honest though, I have a lot of games in my backlog right now and I'm still trying to catch up on requests from months ago, so it's going to take a long long time before I can play it.

      Delete
  2. If it eases the pain any, someone finally managed to make a game where the player can ask random NPCs for directions and get answers. Outcast from the late nineties.

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    Replies
    1. I'm surprised that one isn't on my site already, especially considering that I bought it a few months back. Or was it years?

      If I don't get it played by the end of 2014 at the latest, someone should leave a strongly worded (yet polite and well written) comment requesting that I get my shit together.

      Delete
  3. The music and sound effects only sound right for me using my MT-32 and running the game in DOSBox (not ScummVM) with delayed SySEx processing. (I have a Rev. 0 MT-32)

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  4. Hi... let me tell some things that most people dont know about this game and why most people who play this game are going to be walking in circles whitout knowing what to do...and in many walktrough dont explain the exact order of things that one need to do to complete the game... yes is one of that games.

    1-the game have some "bugs" and some situations that make the game imposible to complete, except if you do it in the right order.
    2-before to enter in the Blacksmith shop you need to talk whit Mallin or else the stone for make fire is not gonna appear.
    3-Ratpouch is a real pain in the ass and sometimes can make your character to block and you gonna need to restart your game.
    4-sometimes your character takes the longest path to make an action and can enter in a continous loop and you gonna need to restart.
    5-when the girl is free from the town hall wait to get normal (transformation) and right away go to talk to Mallin for give you the book... if not Mallin its gonna disappear from the game and you gonna be going in circles without knowing what to do.
    6-when you cross the cavern and deal whit the dragon use quickly the poison and then you talk... if not the dragon gonna kill you and an Error message appears and the program close.
    7-when you are out of the dragon cavern talk to Mallin and quickly go to Evans shop... if not you gonna miss a sequence that happend in there and again you gonna be walking in circles without nothing to do.
    8-after lower drawbridge is going to appear a demon that you need to fight but you are gonna miss every hit...so just right after you enter that room hit to the air and you gonna be able to kill him.

    PS: great blog!!!... im still reading and is 4 in the morning
    PS2: sorry for my "english"

    ReplyDelete

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